West Palm Beach shoplifting lawyers have been representing clients facing retail theft cases throughout the area since 1995. Their experience as former Palm Beach County prosecutors along with decades of experience defending shoplifting cases makes them uniquely qualified to defend your case.
Elements of Shoplifting
Shoplifting, also called retail theft, is the crime of stealing items from a retail store. Florida law does not have a separate shoplifting statute, but shoplifters are charged under general theft laws.
In Florida, shoplifting is charged as petty theft or grand theft. The penalties become more severe depending on how valuable the stolen items are. For example, stealing items valued at less than $100 is petty (“petit”) theft in the second degree, and is a misdemeanor offense with a sentence of up to 60 days in jail. Shoplifting merchandise worth more than $100 and less than $300 is first-degree petit theft, with a sentence of up to 364 days in Palm Beach County jail making it imperative that a West Palm Beach lawyer is contacted immediately. If the retail merchandise stolen is worth over $300 but under $5000, the charge will be grand theft in the third degree, which is a felony offense punishable by five years in Florida prison.
Penalties for Retail Theft
Clearly, a conviction for shoplifting or retail theft can have a damaging effect on one’s reputation, their job prospects, family, and well-being. A theft conviction can severely hinder their ability to keep and secure future employment.
The West Palm Beach attorneys at Leifert & Leifert will always try to pursue alternative resolutions to sentencing; for one, someone might be eligible to seal or expunge a shoplifting disposition. This area offers alternative programs for first-time offenders such as pre-trial intervention or pre-trial diversion, where their shoplifting charges will be dismissed upon completion of the program.
A first offense shoplifting misdemeanor case is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days and a $500.00 fine. The second offense is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable for up to one year in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. A third offense, if convicted, elevates it to a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. For a first offense, a client can often get into a diversion program, 99% get them into a diversion program where the charge is dismissed or has varying terms and conditions.
Sometimes they will have to do community service, take a class, maybe write a letter of apology or any combination of those three things and stay out of trouble for a short amount of time, three or six months, and the case would get dismissed. If there is a second offense and they can lay down some mitigating circumstances, such as the explanation of the conduct, maybe there are some factors or issues going on in their lives or something like that, typically they would look for no conviction, no probation, no jail, and just pay a fine.
For a third offense, one is looking at probation and maybe some jail depending upon what the person is doing now. It depends on what it is, but for a first offense, they are definitely looking at diversion, for a second offense they are looking at no prison, no jail, and hopefully being on probation. For a third offense, it is going to escalate from there.
Contacting a West Palm Beach Shoplifting Attorney
If you are charged with retail theft, you need to have the most experienced attorney handle your case. For more than 50 years, the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert have provided effective, aggressive criminal defense representation for individuals in the area, as well as throughout Florida. Our skilled attorneys are former Palm Beach County prosecutors who are thoroughly knowledgeable about Florida shoplifting laws. Their prior experience as prosecutors has equipped them with the resources they need to effectively present your defense. Therefore, if you have recently been arrested or are facing retail theft charges, it is crucial to have an experienced West Palm Beach shoplifting lawyer defending your case.